By Harry Lichtman
BETHESDA — On a rainy Friday night, two 4-4 varsity football teams met for a competitive first half but a lopsided second half, as the visiting Wootton Patriots (5-4) demolished the Walter Johnson Wildcats (4-5) 42-14.
For a majority of the entire game, the ball had been very wet and slippery, which made it hard for players to grab a hold of it, and many receivers failed to catch the ball as it slipped through their hands.
However, with 40.2 seconds left in the first quarter, Wootton senior quarterback Noelly Miller threw a fade pass toward fellow senior Aaron Strauss in the corner of the end zone for the 18-yard touchdown. But with the extra point blocked, the Patriots led only 6-0.
The Wildcats kept it close though, because on their first drive of the second quarter, some nice runs from sophomore tailback Ian Griffin led to a touchdown on a quarterback sneak by junior Josh Forburger, with the extra point giving WJ a 7-6 lead.
But Wootton’s ensuing drive also resulted in a score, as Miller’s eight-yard touchdown on a keeper, as well as the two-point conversion, put the Patriots up 14-7, looking to lead at halftime.
However, with under 20 seconds to go, Forburger fired a pass deep to the end zone for senior receiver Ramez Crump for the 33-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14, with the possibility of this game being a shootout.
Or so the Wildcats thought.
The game remained tied for a majority of the third quarter, but much later in the quarter, Wootton drove down the field as Miller scored once again on a keeper from six yards out. However, with the extra point blocked, the score stayed at 20-14.
“It feels amazing to come out in the second half and put them away like that,” said Miller. “First half, we didn’t finish on plays, and in the second half, we picked it up and we shut them out.”
Still, the Patriots didn’t stop there, because after recovering the ball on a botched toss from Forburger, running back Matt Amobi found the end zone from six yards out to extend the lead to 26-14 early in the fourth.
Amobi scored once again on a 47-yard scamper, with the two-point conversion increasing the lead to 34-14. Then, senior Ralin Lewis, son of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis, joined in the action and scored from one yard out.
“Those two guys are deservedly two of the best in the county,” Patriots head coach Eddie Tolliver Sr. said about Miller and Amobi, “‘cause they show it week in and week out. Noelly’s a great athlete and Matt’s so elusive, it’s hard to get them, especially behind those big guys.”
Wootton’s defense also came through with an interception on the first play from scrimmage, as well as the fumble recovery on the bad toss late in the third. It was quite embarrassing for the home team, considering it was Walter Johnson’s senior night and homecoming.
“They had a little bit more intensity than we did,” WJ head coach Larry Hurd said about the second half. “A little bit of everything happened, from cramps to knees. We had a lot of kids out there that were fighting and didn’t get a lot of reps this week in practice.”
Next week, both teams will play in their final regular season games, with the Patriots hosting the Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets on Friday, Nov, 2 at 6:30 p.m., while the Wildcats will head to Churchill to face the Bulldogs, same date, same time.